Sunday, February 12, 2017

Sermon for 2/12/17: Septuagesima

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The King and His Kingdom

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

I’ve said this before, but the Kingdom of heaven is always like a person. It is not like the Roman Empire, the city states of Greece, or even the United States. It is not at all like the kingdoms of men. It is not like any group or organization. The Kingdom of heaven is like a landowner. It is like a man, a person. That is because it is the Man, Jesus Christ.
The Man Jesus, body and soul, is the King and the Kingdom. He is no mere man, for He is also God. He does not rule in the ways of men. He neither commits violence nor threatens violence. Nor is He King by popular acclaim or vote. He has not seized the throne in any way. He just is. He has the right to rule anyway He chooses. But He chooses to rule through generosity, like a landowner who overpays, who gives away the Kingdom to greedy souls that hate Him and seek His destruction, to those who betray and forget Him. He bears the heat of the day, the burdens of all humanity, on His outstretched arms. He is thirsty, hungry, and dying so that men would be spared the eternal damnation they had earned. He defeats the devil and breaks you out of Hell. He declares you innocent and adopts you as His.
It is hard for us to imagine because we know what we are like, and we are not like that. Our kingdoms are not of grace. Our wisdom states: “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” Our wisdom states, “You get what you pay for.” Mothers always remind their children, “Life is not fair.” Yeah, that helps! So much for the wisdom of men.
The Truth is that Life is not fair—but not in the way that your mother meant it. He who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life is not fair. He is driven by a Justice that exceeds man’s limitations and imagination. He is not fair in His punishments or chastisements. Instead, He is merciful and kind. He bears the burdens for men in Himself. For even though it isn’t fair, even though we should pay for our sins and die the death we’ve deserved, He has done it for us, in our place, as our perfect and holy Substitute. It isn’t fair. But it is generous and wonderful. The Kingdom of God is a kingdom of grace and reversals. The last are first. Those without right to demand, those without resources or hope, eat and drink without money or cost. You who were dead are made alive.
We’d like to end there, but the parable keeps going. After all, the Kingdom of heaven exists in this world, and this world is hostile. The grace of God is always rejected by sinful men. Fallen men want to tell God how to dole out His goods. The landowner’s final verdict is a sad one: “Take what is yours and go your way.” What belongs to us by nature? Death. What is our way when we act according to our nature? Hell. Repent. For we have dared to complain that the generosity and grace of God is not good enough, not generous enough. We have dared to challenge the purity of God’s motives. We have blamed Him for wars and famines and disease and heartache in our world. We have complained against Him as though we deserved more. We’ve hid our light under a bushel. God forbid we should be so vain as to reject the gifts of God as not enough!
The hour is now. Salvation is upon us. For a time you will suffer. Your heart will grow weary. You will be attacked by temptations of doubt and fear. But nothing will overcome you. The Lord Jesus has claimed you. He works in own way and time but always for your good. It is already the eleventh hour. Soon you shall be relieved at last of the world, the devil, and your old sinful nature. For Jesus Christ did not die in vain. He does not lie. He has not forgotten you. He loves you and forgives you. Easter is coming. The dead, even you, will rise again. The Kingdom of God belongs to you. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.

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